A Norwegian district court has ruled in favor of Norway’s largest bank against a local cryptocurrency exchange. The court says the bank has full rights to close the account of the exchange, citing money laundering risks and criminal activities associated with bitcoin trading.
Court Ruled in Favor of Bank
Oslo District Court, known in Norwegian as Oslo tingrett, has ruled in favor of Nordea Bank against a local bitcoin exchange, Bitmynt AS, according to E24.
The court’s verdict states that “after a global assessment, [there is] no doubt that the risk of money laundering and transactions related to criminal offenses is clearly elevated by bitcoin trade.” The news outlet further quoted the court’s ruling:
The court finds it clear that this risk constitutes an objective reason for the bank to deny customer relationships under the Financial Contracts Act §21.
Nordea “is the largest financial services group in the Nordic region and one of the biggest banks in Europe,” according to its website. The bank has a presence in 17 countries, total operating income of EUR 9.5 billion (~US$11.33 billion) and total assets of EUR 581.6 billion (~$693.53 billion) in 2017.
Responding to the court’s decision, Bitmynt founder Sturle Sunde emphasized in a statement that his exchange “lost [the case] despite having followed the Money Laundering Act and is not suspected of criminal activity.” He is “disappointed with the result, saying the sentence goes a long way in limiting more than just his own business,” the news outlet conveyed and quoted him expressing:
It’s very frustrating to get this judgment. The court has in practice put a ban on bitcoin trading.
The fight with Nordea Bank began last year for Sunde and Bitmynt. In the autumn of last year, the bank closed the exchange’s account “due to the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing,” Norwegian publication Dn described, adding:
According to Nordea, there were up to 1,400 transactions a month through his account, all of which concern the purchases and sales of bitcoin.
Sunde subsequently sued the bank. However, Oslo District Court “believes Nordea was in full right to deny Sunde and his company customer relations with the bank. The court rules that the bank is obliged to discontinue customer relationships if it involves the risks of transactions related to criminal offenses,” the news outlet elaborated.
Furthermore, E24 noted that “the court considers that the way Sunde conducts Bitmynt trading prevents Nordea from fulfilling its obligations regarding customer control and ongoing follow-ups under the Money Laundering Act.” Sunde disagreed, claiming that “the judge did not understand the matter well enough” and he plans to appeal the court’s decision.